Gross Page 3
     He tells me that her mother moved shortly after. To a deserted tropical island. To write.
     There was another interested publishing student he knew, Erin. He tells me that he resisted, that by now he'd caught on to the curse, at least in some sort of kitschy way, and that the moment those pages left his hands, those whom they were delivered to would leave his life. He would lose a friend and a nice pen. But she insisted, said that knowledge of the curse neutered its power, that not only would she reach chapter 8, she would read every single word, scouring for grammatical and logical errors, and would return the manuscript covered in so much red ink it would look like a mutilated corpse. You can call me a butcher, she said. He flirted, said he wasn't sure, the curse had already claimed four. She was wrong. There was an incident, he was never clear on the details, only that she lost her scholarship, that she had to drop out of school, return home. She had lost her desire for the

ritual murder of his words, the manuscript languished in a box in her parents' garage.
     He tells me that was when his grandfather wanted to see what sort of crap he was paying for at that fancy school of his grandson's that he begged him to want something else, that he knew what would happen, that it wasn't fair to ask him to shoulder that responsibility. But his grandfather was a solid fellow of the Greatest Generation, adamant, resolved, and of the deeply superstitious conviction that superstition was for queers and pinkos, and he practically tore the pages from his grasp. He tells me that he never knew how far his grandfather read, only that it was far enough for him to make up his mind that queers and pinkos wielded not only superstition but the florid nonsense he had dribbled onto those cursed pages, that though he would finish paying the bill for school because he had made a commitment, if the words contained within those pages were how he felt